The fifteen minute forum was led tonight by Harriet Schuler – our Deputy Leader in Science.
Our science department have been developing ways in which they can support students with their extended writing – particularly in response to the new style exam questions. They have had some excellent support from Karen Parks (@betterscience1) who must also be credited for some of the resources and ideas here.
Step 1 – Understanding command words
1. Describe the mugs
2. Explain the differences in the mugs
3. Compare the similarities and differences between the mugs
4. Evaluate the mugs
Once they have done this, unpick how what they did for each of the command words e.g. how did they compare the mugs? How did they evaluate them? etc. Then go on to relate this to exam questions.
Step 2 – Interpreting the question
You can use ‘Exam Talk’ in a number of ways to help both high and low ability. Students can just discuss the question in pairs prior to answering, or students can fill in the sheet (I have them laminated and they use mini-white board pens) individually or in pairs before answering the question.
I have also used this to help students plan writing exam style questions for each another as well as using it to write mark schemes.
3. Planning their response
Having identified the correct command word for the question, students can use the following writing skeltons to plan their answer, before writing it in full:
4. Writing the answer
Students can then use some or all of the planning and interpreting support strategies to write their final answer.
To mix it up a little, you can ask students to break down a full answer and summarise it into one of the skeletons.